Alex Bernstein: Time, Creation and Transformation
If we were to examine a cross-section of an ancient iceberg, no doubt the layers and various densities and opacities of color would be beautiful, but they would also signify something greater than ourselves. Such is the case with Alex Gabriel Bernstein’s sculpture. The forms and the techniques he uses to create them, mirror processes in nature such as oxidation, erosion, growth and decay, inspiring in the viewer a profound contemplation of time, creation and transformation.
Unwittingly, fortuitously, Bernstein discovered a method of applying metal to glass, and began using it as a jagged, impenetrable crust for his glass castings. Though others have openly copied these techniques - resulting in a new verb, “bernstein-ing” - none will achieve the depth or emotions unique to Bernstein’s sculpture.
As the child of two established glass artists, William and Katherine Bernstein, Alex grew up in a creative environment with access to many of the artists of the American Studio Glass movement. The beautiful surroundings of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina where they lived, played almost as much a part in his inspired upbringing as did the breadth of teachers around him.
After studying psychology at the University of North Carolina in Asheville and working at a children’s psychiatric hospital, Bernstein made the decision to pursue his artistic endeavors full time. He received an MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts and went on to teach at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Penland School of Crafts, and The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass. Twelve years ago, Bernstein was the Department Head of Glass at the Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, but made the decision to return to his hometown in 2007 to set up a studio and focus on creating his own work full-time. He is currently on the board of the Asheville Art Museum as well as the North Carolina Glass Center.
Bernstein has recently mounted solo shows at George Billis Gallery, New York City; Hooks Epstein Gallery in Houston; Habatat Gallery in Royal Oak, MI; and the William Traver Gallery, Seattle. His work is included in numerous collections, including those of the Corning Museum of Glass, the Glasmuseum Frauenau in Germany, the Mellon Financial Corporation, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Upcoming Bernstein exhibitions and events include Habatat Prime Chicago, a pop-up gallery located three miles from Navy Pier and open during Sofa Chicago. The 7500-square-foot space offers an incredible collection of the finest in contemporary glass, including Bernstein’s newest work. Winterowd Fine Art, a contemporary art gallery located on historic Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is gearing up for Bernstein’s solo exhibition in 2020. In January 2020, Bernstein’s work will be exhibited at a collectors weekend held at Lahaina Gallery in Maui, Hawaii.
Receive This Glass
"Receive this glass
it holds my memories
to be pollinated
by your sight
your touch through time."
- Paul J. Stankard
There are few works of art in any medium that are so beautiful, so transcendent that the viewer is transported inside the piece and into the soul of its creator. Such is the case with the paperweights and botanicals created by internationally acclaimed artist and pioneer in the studio glass movement, Paul Stankard. By blending mysticism with magical realism, his work references the continuum of nature and allows us to celebrate on an intimate level her primal beauty.
Considered a living master in the art of the paperweight, Stankard’s work is represented in more than 75 museums around the world. Over his 40-year artistic journey, he has received two honorary doctorate degrees, an honorary associate's degree, and many awards within the glass community, most recently the Masters of the Medium Award from Smithsonian's The James Renwick Alliance and the Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the UrbanGlass Award—Innovation in a Glassworking Technique.
In 1961, Stankard enrolled in Salem County Vocational Technical Institute’s Scientific Glassblowing program (now Salem Community College). During his subsequent 10-year scientific glassblowing career, fabricating complex instruments was his focus. As head of the glass department at Rohn & Haas in Philadelphia, the artist began experimenting with floral paperweights as a hobby. The work was eventually noticed by art dealer Reese Palley at a craft expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and in 1972, Stankard abandoned industry for art.
Stankard says: “Every artist’s transition from detail to delicacy will follow a different path. In my case, my techniques evolved from working as a scientific glassblowing technologist producing custom precision instruments used for medical and organic chemistry research. This gave me a platform from which to interpret nature in a personal way. From the get-go, I was able to employ a detail-oriented precision that was borrowed from my work in industry.”
He continues: “Art-making is as varied as there are artists working. You take advantage of the skill-set you know, and you make it personal. You go beyond the practical, and you go beyond making product. You learn from your process and build on your personal vocabulary, fusing your detail into the realm of delicacy.”
Stankard’s role as educator includes establishing the flameworking studio at Penland School of Craft, Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and serving as a founding board member and President of The Creative Glass Center of America, Millville, New Jersey. The artist taught students in the US at Penland; the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington; and abroad at Kanaz Forest of Creation Japan with Hiroshi Yamano as well as at North Lands Creative, in the Scottish Highlands. He remains an Artist-in-Residence and Honorary Professor at Salem Community College, where he founded the International Flameworking Conference.
Now dividing his time between flameworking and writing, Stankard is the author of three books; an autobiography No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass, an educational resource Spark the Creative Flame: Making the Journey from Craft to Art; and most recently Studio Craft as Career: A Guide to Achieving Excellence in Art-making. His love of Walt Whitman poetry continues.
Stankard’s work will be exhibited at Habatat Prime Chicago, a pop-up gallery located three miles from Navy Pier, as part of Sofa Chicago, October 31 through November 3. The 7,500-square-foot space offers an incredible collection of the finest in contemporary glass, including Stankard’s newest work. For more information, visit www.habatat.com. Also, the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts in Dania Beach, South Florida, will exhibit the Wiener collection of Stankard’s work in its The Art of the Flame exhibition. The exhibition preview weekend will be held November 9 and 10, and the show will run through April 30, 2020. Learn more at wmoda.com.
Mutant: Narcissus Quagliata’s New Book of Poetry and Sketches
“Divested of the illusion that art matters, divested of the illusion that it is meaningful and worthwhile to have a successful life as an artist, the irrational love for the creative process itself is all that I have left. It all boils down to my addiction to entering over and over in the magical moment and mysterious space when an idea forms inside of you and becomes itself by traveling from the dark cave of my soul to the outside reality, be it a huge glass dome or a small watercolor.”
October 2019 marks the release of Narcissus Quagliata’s fourth book, Mutant, a collection of poetry and sketches created from 1968 to 2018 and inspired by the life and times of this internationally acclaimed artist. The book intimately explores the relationship between dreams, words and images on 216 pages with 13 full-color photographs of Quagliata's glass and watercolor work.
Born and raised in Rome, Quagliata later lived in San Francisco for 30 years where he began his journey of redefining stained glass as an artistic medium. He made a name for himself by addressing subjects and issues in his glass that were typically handled by painters. Reversely, his work in glass made him an outlier in the world of painting. Still, the artist managed to cultivate a successful career without ever definitively fitting in anywhere.
With the introduction of new technologies in glass fusing, Quagliata set about reinventing the glass panel as a painting, spontaneous and free. He developed new attitudes and methods to rethink what could be done with glass using the kiln. Through his Painting with Light techniques, the artist pioneered a second area of the glass arts.
In both stained and fused glass, Quagliata devoted 50 years to the exploration of the human figure as a gateway to the strangeness of life in an incomprehensible universe. His work has been exhibited in museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum, New York City; De Young Museum, San Francisco, California; Museum of Light, Mexico City, Mexico; Museum of Glass San Ildefonso, Segovia, Spain; and many more.
Major public works by Quagliata include Wind, Fire and Time, a 6700- square-foot, public commissioned, fused and stained glass dome in the Central Station of Taiwan’s metro system in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (2008); Divinity in Light, a dome of glass over the entry Rotunda of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome, Italy (1999); Return to the Cosmos, a 360-square-foot backlit glass mural in an office tower lobby at Reforma 115, Mexico City, Mexico, (2004); and most recently The Resurrection Window in Leawood Kansas, a 3440-square-foot fused glass window designed by Tim Carey and created in collaboration with Judson Studios (2017). Quagliata has twice received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for his work in the U.S.
At 76, Quagliata continues to be much in demand professionally, dividing time between his studio in Mexico City, Mexico, and an ongoing residency at Judson Studios, Los Angeles, California, in his role as Director of Innovation. At Judson, Quagliata works to further develop the studio’s fusing capabilities while also helping to guide its artist development program, introducing artists in other mediums to stained and fused glass and successfully executing their concepts in glass.
Mutant, and Quagliata’s previous book, Archetypes and Visions in Light & Glass, are available at dlartglass.com or order by phone (303) 449- 8737. Both titles will be available for purchase at the October 23 lecture in Lakewood, Colorado. Have your copy signed by the author!